Support our Left-Behind Children Program

The number one reason parents leave their children behind when they migrate for work is not having anyone to look after them when they are at work

Since 2016, the ICTI Ethical Toy Program has piloted programs which have improved the well-being of thousands of domestic migrant toy factory workers with left-behind children, and delivered tangible business benefits which strengthen toy factories. Domestic migrant workers form a substantial proportion of the workforce in China’s toy factories. Many of them must travel hundreds and thousands of miles away from home to find work and they are often unable to bring their children with them. This has led to millions of ‘left-behind children’ in the countryside many of whom only see their parents once or twice a year. The number one reason parents leave their children behind when they migrate for work is not having anyone to look after them when they are at workOur Family-Friendly Spaces (FFS) allow children to stay with their parents for the summer with childcare provided in fun, safe and secure environments whilst their parents worked. Our Migrant Parent Training (MPT) educate workers on remote parenting techniques and helping them to build better relationships with their children from a distance. These successful programs have delivered very high satisfaction rates, even as high as 99% for FFS in 2017. As well as having a profoundly positive effect on the well-being of participating workers and their children, factories also found an increase in employee satisfaction rates, employee-management trust, and worker retention rates after participating in the pilots.Scaling-upThis summer we are increasing the number of factories operating FFS to 14. Of these, 6 are new to the FFS program and 8 have previously participated. We are delighted to confirm that half of participating factories have committed to running FFS again themselves this year with only minimal support from IETP. This commitment demonstrates factories believe in the program and the benefits it delivers. The remaining factories are able to participate thanks to the generous support of this year’s FFS supporters: LEGO, TUV Rheinland, and Target.In 2018 we are also extending the FFS program to offer year-round childcare support to toy factory workers, making it easier for them to live with their children throughout the year. These After School Centers (ASC) are factory-based facilities where the children of workers are taken care of after school until their parents finish work. ASC extend the benefits of FFS beyond the summer months to provide a sustainable, low-cost and year-round solution to migrant parent’s childcare struggles. Get involved and help us go further in 2018Our left-behind children program helps to create a toy industry where children’s products are made by workers who are supported in their role as parents thereby ensuring that toys are manufactured in a way that is consistent with the values of the industry.Planning for FFS is well underway and the spaces will be welcoming children in the coming weeks. We are now inviting toy brands and retailers to sponsor Migrant Parent Training (MPT) and After School Centers (ASC) in 2018 to enable us to reach thousands of factory workers. Sponsoring MPT and ASC at toy factories in your supply chain is a clear demonstration of your company’s commitment to promoting worker well-being. Supporting these programs is also an effective way of integrating child rights into your corporate social responsibility strategy and meeting other commitments such as those related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.Please download our booklet 'Supporting Migrant Workers with Left-Behind Children in China' which explains more about the benefits of supporting these programs. Contact Mark Robertson ( to learn more about the program and find out how you can get involved.